Tally Job Hop created to reduce brain drain

From the Tallahassee Democrat

Marcus Mobley rode along with several aspiring graduates at Florida State University as they huddled and chatted in a shuttle van.

There were two groups and a long day of stops at various businesses specializing in information technology, public relations and marketing. The students were used to Garnet and Gold campus life. Most of them, including Mobley, knew little outside that bubble. But he learned a lesson.

Tallahassee may have more to offer than he realized once he graduates. And that’s what the Tally Job Hop was created to do: showcase local businesses, convince graduates of Tallahassee’s career destination potential and reduce the inevitable brain drain that comes with being a college town.

“I can definitely see myself staying in Tallahassee,” said Mobley, a 26-year-old IT major who’s slated to graduate in fall 2017. He was impressed by the collegial environment at IT companies like App Innovators, Diverse Computing Inc., and UberOps. It felt genuine, he said. And then there were brow-raising tidbits. For example, Diverse Computing treats its staff to free lunch every day.

“When I heard that, I was like, ‘What?,’” Mobley said. A seemingly small perk, Mobley said it was something to think about. It showed how much the company appreciated its employees.

The Tally Job Hop is the brainchild of Lester Hutt, Diverse Computing’s founder and sales and marketing manager. He hosted one in January. The Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce caught wind of it and wanted to expand the concept, with Hutt’s blessing.

“It takes them outside of that comfort zone. They get awareness of all of the career opportunities. On top of that, they get to see a side of Tallahassee that they don’t normally get to see,” Hutt said.

Hutt said everyone talks about the importance of talent retention. Major corporations with heavyweight marketing teams descend on Tallahassee. Hutt mentioned companies like General Motors, State Farm Insurance and Google. All good companies, he said.

“But they were being a vacuum cleaner and sucking out all of the good talent,” Hutt said. That doesn’t have to be the case. He said 70 percent of his 37 employees graduated from FSU, Florida A&M University and Tallahassee Community College.

Jay Revell, the chamber’s vice president, said 80 students applied for the Tally Job Hop. The only requirement was to be willing to stay in Tallahassee for a career.

“We thought we could take this to the next level,” said Revell, who took the wheel of one shuttle group. As the van made stops at businesses, it was also a chance to chat about major developments and attractions in Tallahassee, from the Centre of Tallahassee mall redevelopment to Cascades Park.

And the students learned they didn’t have to flee the 850 area code to work on a national scale or travel the country.

At Moore Communications Group, President Terrie Ard spoke of the firm’s roster: Ford Motor Company, Lincoln Motor Company, Merrill Lynch Corporation, Astellas, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google and Anheuser-Busch, among others. But they also worked on local campaigns, such as the opening of Table 23.

She started as an intern. She remembers dreaming of a big city lifestyle.

“When I think about my career, I’m right where I was supposed to be all along,” Ard said. “What Tallahassee has that I don’t think a lot of students realize is that you can have an incredibly successful career here and you can learn on day one from companies that are doing amazing national work.”

Featured companies:

  • Diverse Computing
  • UberOps
  • Domi Station
  • UCompass
  • Cuttlesoft
  • Canopy Software Inc.
  • App Innovators
  • Sachs Media Group
  • BowStern Marketing Communications
  • Moore Communications Group
  • The Pod Advertising
  • Salter>Mitchell Inc. 
  • Visit Florida 
  • Thomas Howell Ferguson P.A CPAs.